Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ryan crime report laid in Parliament; focus on sports

PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar with Sports Minister Anil Roberts and Government House Leader Roodal Moonilal
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar on Friday presented to Parliament the Ryan report on crime, stating that cabinet has already reviewed the document and each member has been instructed to study it in more detail.

She said sports will be a major area of activity as would recommendations dealing with Education, Skills Training, Community Development, Gender and Youth Affairs, Labour and Micro Enterprises and National Diversity and Social Integration.

"Accordingly I wish to recommend to Parliament that the Report be published and made available on the Parliament web site, allowing a wider cross section of our citizens to better understand the factors affecting Young Males as we discuss Crime in Trinidad and Tobago," she said.

The 430-page report - titled "No Time to Quit" - A team led by Prof. Selwyn Ryan and including Dr. Indira Rampersad, Dr. Lennox Bernard, Professor Patricia Mohammed and Dr. Marjorie Thorpe prepared the 430-page report, which the PM described as "impressive and comprehensive".

She said the report is presented against two important developments.

"The first is the very striking and pertinent remarks of our new President, His Excellency, Anthony Thomas Carmona at his inauguration last Monday.

"The second was the happy and joyous occasion yesterday (Thursday), when His Excellency joined us in Laventille as we honoured the champions of Laventille who won the inaugural Hoop of Life Basketball competition.

"The messages clearly intertwined and the impact they conveyed not only resonated throughout the Hills of Laventille but all over the country," Persad-Bissessar said.

The PM said the team produced a work of "scholarly excellence" and one of practical relevance as the country tries to understand some of the very critical factors impacting on young me and crime in T&T.

"We are all too aware of the debilitating influence of crime on the psyche of our citizens, about its direct impact on a large number of citizens and equally important on the psychological welfare of citizens in all walks of life...

She said the report recognises that youth can make positive contributions to the development of the society and challenges the state to help youth to realise their potential.

The PM stated, "I note that the comments and recommendations made by the Ryan Committee echo and validate the observations and findings of members of my government.

"Even before we formally came into office, we recognised that broken and dysfunctional families were a major factor of influence, removing a fundamental rock of stability that would otherwise have guided our young people into gainful and productive behaviour.

"Unfortunately, as a country, we did not address the issue when it first began rearing over a decade ago. We ignored, vacillated, excused, sought to find dubious explanations like ‘collateral damage’, but blindly refuse to face and deal with the fundamental problems.

"By the time we came into office the situation had grown to enormous proportions, making the challenges even more demanding. But we were fully committed to the task, involving immediate short term initiatives but also focussing on longer term solutions."

Persad-Bissessar noted that the report highlighted the value of sport and the compelling stories about youth who have chosen sport over juvenile crime, arguing that an investment in sport for ‘at risk’ youths is more than cost effective.

She said her government fully endorses that concept "and if we needed any validation, the euphoria of yesterday’s function in Laventille was evidence enough, for a community, often described in derogatory terms, came together in sheer pride and happiness to receive their rewards for having won the innovative Hoop of Life 2012 Basketball competition".

The said the second rounf of the Hoop of Life 2013 will begin next month and the prize money has been increased to $1.5 million.

"Sport is a tangible investment in our future. It is no coincidence that our Partnership Government have placed unprecedented attention to Sport, expending historic sums on building sporting facilities of excellence to nurture and encourage young people in particular, to achieve their optimum potential," the PM stated.

She said the government has been improving the sports infrastructure throughout the country and would continue to do so with the building of major national sporting facilities including a National Aquatic Centre, a National Tennis Centre, and a National Cycling Centre.

"We are also constructing Multipurpose Sporting facilities in Sangre Grande, Arima and Diego Martin; upgrading regional parks in eleven districts including the Brian Lara Ground in Santa Cruz; upgrading 153 regional corporation grounds throughout the length and breadth of the country.

"And we have not forgotten the need for upgrade of our six national multipurpose stadia including the Halsey Crawford Stadium, The Jean Pierre Complex and the Ato Boldon Stadium.

She reminded legislators of the point made by the President that children need love and order and, which is a place where they can begin to develop a moral sense. She congratulated the President for his "stirring and thought provoking" inaugural address.

"He was thoughtful, inspirational, and challenging; exhorting every citizen of this country to recognise individual responsibility to nation building. President Carmona heralded a literal new paradigm of Presidential leadership and ushered his term of office by reminding us of deep and fundamental issues," the PM said.

"But he urged us to recognise that we have the power to face and surmount the difficulties, reminding that we have to rediscover our destiny...I was deeply moved by the words, the eloquence, and the fortrightness of His Excellency," she added.

She quoted from the speech: "No one has ever suggested that change is easy. Indeed, even the most sought-after changes are generally attended by doubts and fears. And this is particularly true when the change envisioned threatens our sense of who we are as individuals or as members of a distinct group; when that change exposes strongly-held biases and prejudices as myths – myths that constrain our capacity for empathy, promoting instead narrow group loyalties that serve only to deny us the magic of community, to steal from us the courage and the wisdom that are the principal building blocks of this small and complex nation we call Trinidad and Tobago."

She said she looks forward to her regular discussions with President Carmona "conscious that he will give me sage, wise and frank counsel and guidance". She said, "I have no doubt he will provide our Nation with considered and determined inspiration, in both words and deeds."

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai